Despite what the TV guides and NBC themselves promised, there would only be two sports in last night’s coverage: women’s gymnastics team finals and a whole bunch of swimming. Like men’s gymnastics team finals the night before, women’s 10m synchronized platform diving would not have its moment of primetime glory, despite being included in all of the listings. And I’m sure this programming decision had everything to do with the fact that the Americans had a much bigger stories in both gymnastics and swimming than in synchronized diving and not because the diving pool, for reasons that remain mysterious, turned a peculiar shade of green:
Don’t worry about it! It’s perfectly safe to swim in! A little algae never hurt anyone! Who knows, swimming in it might give you mutant superpowers!
This algae bloom is hardly the only problem Rio has faced in the first few days of hosting the Olympics: A media bus had its windows shot out while on route to the Olympic park; an athlete was kidnapped; a stray bullet landed in the equestrian media tent; Portugal’s education minister was assaulted near the rowing lagoon; and on Friday, the chief of security for the opening ceremony was mugged as he left the event in the most ironic crime in the history of crime.
And when the bullets aren’t flying around, there are NBC’s missteps: Dan Hicks giving the credit for Katinka Hosszu winning her first gold medal to her husband; Al Trautwig’s tone-deaf comments about Simone Biles’ parents; the tape-delay of the opening ceremonies which they blamed on The Ladies; the time the women’s beach volleyball announcer said this about Kerri Walsh: “She told someone that she was born to play volleyball and have babies, and she’s great at doing both!”; whatever the hell is happening here; and, perhaps most crucially, we have had FOUR DAYS OF SPORTS COVERAGE AND NOT ONE SINGLE MARY CARILLO PIECE. WHERE ARE YOUR GODDAMN PRIORITIES, NBC?
Here. Watch this and remember the good times:
WHAT HAVE YOU DONE WITH MARY CARILLO, NBC? OH MY GOD, DOES CHRISTOPHER BURR HAVE HER LOCKED UP SOMEWHERE? It’s always Christopher Burr.
As for last night’s televised events — women’s gymnastics and a bunch of swimming — there were very few surprises, in part because NBC went out of their way to ruin any surprises. This actually happened yesterday evening two hours before the Olympics coverage began:
Local NBC newscast: “Well, I’m sure you know by now that local hero Simone Biles competed with Team USA in the women’s gymnastics finals today. But we’re not going to spoil what happened! In fact, we’re going to put up a graphic showing the medal count so far and play music over it so that you can look away to avoid being spoiled about that, too!”
(5 minutes later) NBC Nightly News’ Lester Holt: “The U.S. women’s gymnastic team just won gold in the team finals, handedly beating Russia and China who came in second and third.”
GET IT TOGETHER, NBC. EITHER AGREE THAT EVERYONE IS GOING TO SPOIL THE STORY OR AGREE THAT NO ONE SPOILS THE STORY.
So, women’s gymnastics. Hey, the Americans won! But Team USA didn’t just beat the other teams, they crushed their enemies, saw them driven before them and heard the lamentations of their women, beating Russia, the silver medalists, by more than 8 points. To put that number in context: Russia beat China, the bronze medalists, by .685 points, and the difference between Russia and the Brazilians, who came in last place, was 4.601 points. What I’m saying is that it was a full-blown slaughter.
Not that anyone was surprised. Simone Biles is some sort of tiny superhuman (who may or may not have gone for a few laps in that diving pool, she’s not saying either way) and has no respect for your stupid laws of gravity. Anything short of a gold for a team that includes her, Gabby Douglas and Aly Raisman would be a joke.
So, the way the team final works is that three of the five team members have to perform on each apparatus and all of their scores count. No do-overs or take backs.
On the vault, Team USA sends up my new girl crush, 16-year-old Jersey girl, Laurie Hernandez, who scores a respectable 15.100. Aly Raisman blows it away with a 15.833. But then Simone Biles comes out and kills it, literally destroys the vault so that no one else can vault for the rest of the night and scores a 15.933. DAMN, SIMONE, LEAVE SOME FOR EVERYONE ELSE.
Team USA is sharing their rotation with Team China, who, Fun Fact! is made up entirely of toddlers. Not a single member of Team China was even born when the London 2012 Olympics took place!* They all score a bunch of 14s on the vault so their night is pretty much over right there.
Meanwhile, that one British gymnast who FELL ON HER NECK in her floor routine during the qualifying round and who everyone was like, “Oh, you just tried to break your neck and definitely banged your brain around in your skull on that last move and you now want to do a couple of vaults? Sure! Cool! Can’t see anything wrong with that idea, go right ahead!” Remember her? Yeah, she can’t stay on the balance beam. Wonder why.
It’s on the uneven bars that Team USA and Simone Biles, specifically, shows any vulnerability, when she scores a — GASP! — YELLOW 14.800. QUICK, SIMONE, GO GET BACK IN THE GREEN DIVING POOL. Gabby Douglas and Madison Kociak make up for this disappointing score with a 15.766 and 15.933 respectively, but in the end it’s not enough to beat Russia on this apparatus and everyone becomes Very Worried that America might not actually win this thing. Except that never happened.
Next: the balance beam, where Aly Raisman, thanks to a tiny wibble scores a 15.000.
In Aly Raisman’s Parents News:
My New Girl Crush Laurie Hernandez, in one of the most inspiring moments of the night, whispers to herself, “I got this,” before leaping up onto the balance beam. A dramatic reenactment:
My Girl Crush do got this, and she scores a 15.233, with extra points for flair.
Finally, Simone Biles takes the beam and destroys it with a 15.300. Sorry, every team behind Team USA, no beam for you! It’s been crushed under the weight of Simone Biles’ greatness.
Finally, the floor exercise. Poor Team China done fucks it up when baby-lady Mao Yi falls off the mat and scores a 12.623, allowing the Team Russia to overtake them for silver. As for Team USA, My Girl Crush scores what seems to me a stupid low 14.833, even after flirting with the judges:
Aly Raisman, who, for my money has one of the best floor routines I’ve ever seen, scores a 15.366, which means that all that’s left for team USA to do is have Simone Biles score a 7.591 to win the gold medal. She scores a 15.8, because, have you seen Simone Biles’ floor routine? THE GIRL HAS HER OWN MOVE NAMED AFTER HER.
Gold medal won, the women of Team USA announce they have come up with a nickname for themselves: “The Final Five,” in honor of their coach, Marta Karolyi, for whom this will be her last Olympics.
As for swimming, the results were not a surprise for your trusty blogger, either, but that was her own damn fault for not starting to watch the Olympics until she had cooked and eaten dinner and then for deciding, halfway through her viewing, that it was CRUCIAL she go to H.E.B. and buy some Phish Food ice cream — because what else are you going to eat while watching human fish Michael Phelps go for his 20th and 21st medals in swimming, Chunky Monkey? And this is how the blogging sausage gets made, folks.
The big story of the night was Michael Phelp and his rivalry with Chad Le Shimmy which would later play out in the pool. But first, there was a weird Rogue One trailer that intercut Olympic athletes with rebel forces shooting stormtroopers? Did anyone else see that or was I drunk on Phish Food? But more imporrtantly, HOW DID THEY MISS THE OPPORTUNITY TO ADD MICHAEL PHELPS SITH LORDING OUT?
There are a bunch of semifinals that we’ve established I don’t care about, before the Women’s 200m Freestyle, which NBC’s New Favorite Person, Katy Ledecky wins, barrrrrrrrely edging out that Swede, Sarah Sjöström, who has been giving everyone such fits. And after the race, Ledecky gives Sjöström a hug, while the announcers rewatch the race and scream indecipherably about something, I don’t even know what. Oh, and Australia’s Emma McKeon comes in third, if you’re keeping track of that kind of thing.
Then Ledecky, still panting from the race, is subjected to an interview, where she reveals that she won because she swam faster than the other swimmers. Insightful!
After a false start, thanks to some yahoo screaming in the crowd, the Men’s 200m Butterfly is won by merman Michael Phelps whose stupid-crazy long arms were able to reach the wall .04 seconds faster than Japan’s Masato Sakai. Coming in third is not McShimmiesAlot, but Hungary’s Tamás Kenderesi, meaning Chad Le Shimmy didn’t even medal after all that. Meanwhile, Phelps does his imitation of Russian supervillain Yulia Efimova, raising one crazy long finger in a “Number One” gesture, and urging the crowd to CLAP LOUDER, DAMMIT. WHO’S SHIMMYING, NOW, FOOL?
There are some more semifinals THAT I DON’T CARE ABOUT, GUH, WHY ALREADY, between Ledecky’s medal ceremony and Michael Phelps’ 20th (!!!!) medal ceremony.
However, in Foolish HQ, this prompts a discussion among Mr. T and your trusty blogger about how long, exactly, Michael Phelps’ arms actually are. Merely long or freakishly long? It turns out, Michael Phelps is 6’4″ with a wingspan of 6’7″, which is an unusually long wingspan! For instance, I at 5’2″ have a wingspan of 5’2″, which I think technically makes me a cube. However, Mr. T, who is taller than Michael Phelps at 6’5″ has a wingspan of 6’8 3/4″; and my eldest child, who is 6′, has a wingspan of 6’4″. So, did we learn anything? I mean, aside from the fact that I probably never had a chance to be an Olympic swimmer and that tall people have long arms? No, probably not.
So then the ladies swim the 200m Variety Pack final, which Katinka Hosszu wins to take her third gold, managing to keep her husband’s threats and divorce attorneys at bay. Great Britain’s Siobhan-Marie O’Connor wins silver and Smarty-Pants from the U.S. wins the bronze.
Finally, the Men’s 4x200m Freestyle Relay, which NBC is particularly bunched up about as it features human phish Michael Phelps AND jeah boy, Ryan Lochte in his first race of these Olympics. Ryan Lochte, noted dummy, left his Olympics grill at home this year, opting instead to bleach his hair a bright silver, which just makes us all a little embarrassed for him. Even more so than usual.
And speaking of dummies, while we were watching the swimmers wander around on deck, preparing for this race, Mr. T informed me that “Freestyle” does indeed allow the swimmers to choose whatever stroke they want to use, contrary to my little rant yesterday. It’s just that they all happen to choose the front crawl, as that is the fastest, uh duh. Still learning something new every day.
So, first in the pool is Conor Dwyer who still doesn’t know how to spell his name, followed by Longhorn Townley Haas who has the shortest time of anyone in the race, opening up a big lead that Ryan Lochte is able to exploit. Hook’em! But it’s Michael Phelps who bursts through the field and wins the race for Team USA, earning himself his 25th medal, 21st gold. Which, so we’re all clear here, is just bananas. That is some batshit craziness. Quit hoarding all the medals, Michael Phelps!
And with that, we’re done here until tonight, which I, again, will be blogging. Apparently, we will be watching more swimming, more beach volleyball (please kill me) and maybe, MAYBE! the men’s gymnastics individual all-around final? Unless they run out of time. Which they probably will. And then hopefully Bobby will return to take the blogging torch from me because my knees are giving out, I think I’m becoming incontinent and my nipples are chafing.
*Not actually a fact. But maybe a fact.